WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump laid out a White House feast fit for a government shutdown on Monday: silver platters heaped high with McDonald’s quarter pounders and the red-and-white burger wrappers of Wendy’s.
White House chefs normally would serve much fancier fare underneath the stern gaze of the portrait of Abraham Lincoln in the State Dining Room. But they are furloughed, staying home without paychecks as Trump fights with Congress over funding the federal government.
The White House said Trump himself sprang for what he pronounced to be “great American food” for the visiting Clemson Tigers, winners of the U.S. college football championship.
“We have pizzas, we have 300 hamburgers, many, many french fries, all of our favorite foods,” Trump told reporters, as one White House worker still on the job lit tapered candles.
“I want to see what’s here when we leave, because I don’t think it’s going to be much,” Trump said, before the players, dressed in dapper suits, flooded the room and piled their plates high.
About a quarter of the federal government has been shut down for the past 24 days after Trump dug in on a campaign pledge to build a wall on the southern border with Mexico, demanding $5.7 billion from Congress for the project. Democrats have rejected his demand.
Trump told the players afterward that he did not want to postpone the event until after the shutdown — which is already the longest in history — ended.
Images of the fast-food smorgasbord — served with White House china and silverware — quickly made their way to social media, and video showed the sharply dressed players digging in.
Some Twitter users used the scene to criticize the president, while others came to his defense.
“I love how Lincoln is skeptically surveying tonight’s surreal scene over Trump’s right shoulder. What could he be thinking?” user @AtomicAnalyst wrote.
I love how Lincoln is skeptically surveying tonight’s surreal scene over Trump’s right shoulder. What could he be thinking? pic.twitter.com/9HFLXcaWHn
— Stephen Schwartz (@AtomicAnalyst) January 15, 2019
“It’s like the Nixon-Elvis photo, except in a universe where Nixon and Elvis have fused into a single organism,” user @kjhealy wrote.
It’s like the Nixon-Elvis photo, except in a universe where Nixon and Elvis have fused into a single organism. pic.twitter.com/0tXRJH9xqQ
— Kieran Healy (@kjhealy) January 15, 2019
“Trump is seriously serving Wendy’s burgers in the White House tonight. Get ready for the Left to be triggggggered!!!” wrote @jmontemiletto.
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